5 Steps to Faster Website Performance

Everyone wants a faster website. But if you’ve already optimized your site and response times have plateaued, you might think that you’re out of options for further performance improvements. This blog explains the steps you can take to make your site even faster.

Website speed is critical for online businesses because it affects nearly every performance indicator, whether it’s search engine results, conversions, revenue or customer satisfaction. The shorter your website response times, the healthier your business is likely to be. Indeed, more than half of users will abandon your website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.

Speed improvement goals used to focus on getting a 10-second loading time down to 5 seconds. That’s a massive improvement. But today, the aim is to go from 3 seconds to 2 seconds. This one-second change lowers user abandonment by up to 25%. 

There are many factors that affect website performance and the main ones are network speed, website object count and backend infrastructure capacity. Businesses can control some of these factors but not all. For example, on the network side, you can’t do much about poor Wi-Fi, 4G or fixed broadband connectivity that some users experience, but you can review hosting arrangements with your ISP to make sure you’re getting the fastest service possible.

The following steps focus on the speed improvements that a web accelerator achieves as part of an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) solution that sits in front of your web servers. Ultimately, an accelerator can decrease the time it takes to load your website by 2 to 5 times and reduce web requests by 50-70%.

1.    Test Your Website

The first step is to test your site to understand how it is currently performing. In fact, you should run regular tests on your site so you’re always up-to-date on the performance metrics. There are many free tests available that will provide a full picture of the factors that affect performance. Here at Snapt, we have our own comprehensive test that offers suggestions for website optimization, quick fixes as well as a deeper understanding of problem areas.

There are multiple other useful resources we like too, including:

  • SSL Server Test: Evaluates web servers for SSL security problems.
  • PageSpeed Insights: Google’s tool that checks that the quality of page speed. optimizations. You should aim for a score of 85 or higher for both mobile and desktop.
  • Pingdom Speed Test: Provides a waterfall view of where your website is taking the longest to load.
  • SEO Status: Tests your website’s SEO readiness.

 

2.    Rewrite Content to Reduce Size

If the content on your web pages is too large, then that will slow down page loading times for your customers. You can dramatically reduce the download size of a page by reducing the size of the content – that is, minimizing and combining JavaScript and CSS stylesheets, removing whitespaces and unnecessary code as well as resizing images to be smaller for smartphones or tablets. This also helps content delivery networks (CDNs) and proxies to cache the content efficiently. Content reduction techniques should be done automatically, rather than through manual processes.

3.    Compress Content Automatically

To further reduce the amount of content your customers need to download (and therefore page load times), content should be automatically compressed when sent to browsers that support it. Automatic compression should be standard practice even if compression isn’t enabled on your web servers. But the compression technique also needs to be intelligent so that it can adapt to your requirements. For example, it should recognize when compressing content would delay user interactions rather than speeding up page load times and make the right decisions accordingly.

4.    Minimize Number of Page Requests

Each time a customer clicks on a web page – i.e., to view more product detail or refresh a news site or confirm a bank transaction – the update requests are sent to the web server as a cascade, or waterfall, of sequential tasks. Depending on the number of requests in the waterfall, there could be a 100-500ms delay on fetching each file needed for the page. An excessive number of requests significantly increases the time it takes to update a page. It’s important that the site doesn’t fetch more data that what is absolutely required. You should combine files and flatten imports to reduce the number of requests in the waterfall and save time.

5.    Offload Web Servers

Wherever possible, look for ways to reduce the load on your backend servers. Website wait times are mostly due to web servers taking too long to generate pages. You can offload the page generation data and cache the images and other elements on a web accelerator so that fewer requests go to the web server. This frees up web server resources so that it runs more efficiently. You should cache static content, but it is also possible to cache dynamic content selectively to handle unexpected bursts of data.

 

Even if your site is already highly optimized, these steps will take your performance to the next level. Faster website performance results in higher sales, better visitor engagement and more customer retention. Visitors will be more likely to stay on your site, come back for more and recommend your service to others.

To see the steps outlined above in action, start your free trial of the Snapt Accelerator that is an integral part of our ADC solution.

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